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Are You Sitting Comfortably? Hints and Tips For Working from Home

Posted by Mike Phipps on September 18, 2020

the image shows a painting of a home office including a table and chair in front of a window. To the left of the table is a man working on a laptop. To the right of the table is a large purple chair with a dog sitting on it

Artwork by Nadia Bormotova from iStock

Approximately half the workforce in the UK is currently working from home (September 2020). The struggle for comfort is real, and the risk of developing chronic back, neck and muscle problems are a serious cause for concern. Ability Superstore is going to take you through some of the basics worth considering if you’re working from home.

When the Office for National Statistics predicted 50% of the UK workforce would be remote by 2020, they didn’t bank on a global pandemic, without which the numbers would be nowhere near as high. Nevertheless, millions have been working from home as a result of Coronavirus — 49% of the workforce by mid-July. Even after staff returning from furlough, businesses seem reluctant to fully reopen offices and other workplaces.

Things can be even more complicated for people working from home with disabilities. Still, the realities of working from home are demanding for everyone. There are significant psychological challenges that present themselves, from self-motivation and confidence to isolation and loneliness, all of which have a profound impact on our mental health. Then there’s the physical impact, too.

Given the makeshift nature of many home workspaces created during the pandemic, physical health and safety are often overlooked. It’s not uncommon for people who have been working from home for years to forget posture while obsessing over productivity. Considering technical furniture specifications like lumbar support is essential if we’re working from home for an extended period — whether that’s years of self-employment or months following a healthcare crisis.

The hidden dangers of working from home
On the face of it, setting your laptop up at your kitchen table doesn’t imply ‘imminent threat’. Nor should it, but the risk of developing chronic back and limb problems as a result of working from home without suitable equipment is significant. As this article on the tech-culture website states, even something as simple as using a separate mouse and external keyboard with your laptop, rather than the tracker pad and flat keyboard, can really help.

Of course, the typical dining chair is not an office chair. Nor are benches or couches, the latter widely considered worst of all. Height-adjustable chairs that allow for varied back, arm and headrest positions have long been pre-requisites of the majority of offices.

Now the office environment and home are interchangeable, we should all carefully think about what we are sitting on, how much lumbar support there is and how comfortable the chair feels over the course of a working day.

Ability Superstore offers several products that can help overcome this without the need to buy a brand new chair.

The Harley 11° Wedge specialist cushion is an example of a design that keeps your spine in its natural position, improving posture and strengthening the back over time. Other seat wedges set at different angles are also available.

Riser cushions can also be a great help to people working from home because they can make the difference between a seat being at the right or wrong height.

Meanwhile, inflatable foot cushions and 4-in-1 support cushions reflect the breadth of unique products aimed at helping people achieve maximum comfort and correct posture whilst seated.

If you’re working from home, lighting makes a big difference
Lighting for a home office is also important, but so many people don’t give it a second glance. Correct lighting can stave off headaches, reduce the risk of eye strain and aid with concentration, particularly when working in front of a computer screen all day.

Think strong ambient for general walls and ceiling fixtures, a focused task lamp for your main work from home area (i.e. your desk), and accent lighting to make the space look the part!

Working from home – routine is everything
We all understand working from home is all about self-discipline, so you’re best trying to define working hours and sticking to regular start and finish times. This also applies to breaks. According to the UK Health & Safety Executive, short, frequent breaks are better than longer breaks. You should also step back from the glare of the PC monitor for five minutes in every 60, and try to take breaks with your favourite cuppa.

Keeping fit is also more difficult if you’re working from home. For members of the accessible cycle to work revolution, no longer commuting by bike is a serious step in a sedentary direction. And even those who used private or public transport are likely to have seen ‘accidental exercise’ routines disappear during the pandemic. 

Virgin Pulse has some great suggestions for desk exercises that can help you stay fit and alert, which are ideal for people working from home. Self-explanatory neck rolls, shoulder stretches, and torso twists are just a few examples that involve minimum movement but help keep us agile. It’s a good idea to try and incorporate these into a wider fitness routine. Of course, under the desk pedal exercisers, exercise bands, chair exercisers, along with other exercise equipment can provide us with a great mini workout at home. Yoga is also very relaxing after a hard day’s work – don’t forget your yoga mat!

So, think carefully about your home workspace, and with just a few adaptations, you will have a rewarding and enjoyable space to work in – for many months or years ahead.

If you have any queries about the products featured in this article, simply call us on 0800 255 0498, and we will help.